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Families all around the world sit in front of their TVs each year on the third Monday of January to watch one of the greatest speeches of our time, "I Have a Dream", by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a son, husband, father, Pastor and Civil Rights leader in one of the most important times in American History. This is a synopsis of his short life, but great accomplishments!
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January, 2010 — Lindon, Utah
Over 50 years ago Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a decisive factor in the success of the United States Civil Rights Movement. BLACK US HISTORY was at a turning point and Dr. King was the pivotal point. I am proud to dedicate this page to him and hope that it makes the reader consider just what his message was. FOOTNOTE.COM is a wonderful vehicle where this information can be presented. The words "I Have a Dream" belong to everyone, everywhere!
15 January 1929 — Atlanta, Georgia
Michael King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta Georgia. He was the second child and the first son of Michael King Sr. and Alberta Christine Williams King. Michael Jr. had an older sister, Willie Christine, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams. The father and later the son adopted the name Martin Luther, after the religious figure who founded the Lutheran denomination. However in the 1930 Census father and son’s name appear as Marvin (See the 1930 Census where the name Marvin appears). Martin would be growing up in an area of the United States that had a long history of slavery and then segregation by using racial discrimination. His parents taught him to respect his fellow men regardless of race. As he began to grow older he naturally saw the lines that had been drawn by the white community concerning the issues of race. It is said that one of his earliest good friends was white. They played and grew together until they were segregated by education. I cannot imagine how hard it was to grow up in circumstances which showed by the actions of society that you were a second class citizen in all instances. I can’t imagine how your self respect would be damaged while seeing those around you who were white, privileged in all ways over you, only because of the color of their skin. It would take a strong individual to battle through the growing that must have taken place within Martin’s soul. Some men and women seem to be born with a personality that allows them to sift through the refuse of life and find the purity of self-worth and identity. Martin seems to be one of those extraordinary individuals. His dream began early and continued on until his untimely death.
1948 — Pennsylvania
In 1944 at the age of 15 Martin Luther King Jr. graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and was admitted to Morehouse College. After graduating from College in 1948 Martin decided to follow his father and become a minister. He attended the Crozer Theological seminary in Pennsylvania. While attending to his studies he became familiar with Mahatma Gandhi and his life. He was impressed with the way Gandhi used peaceful methods to free the people of India from British rule. How could he not be seeking the same for his own people in the United States? It is hard enough for me to understand how the Emancipation Proclamation could have become so convoluted as to allow Jim Crow Laws to continue into the mid 20th Century. How would I have felt living within the boundaries of one of the most notoriously segregated areas in the South and being black? Blacks continued to be lynched, whites continued to Klan together, and the courts were notoriously discrimination based. To even have any feelings of revolt, peaceful or otherwise would take a man or a woman of great courage to precipitate. Along with Gandhi there was also “Civil Disobedience” penned by Henry David Thoreau. Martin Luther King understood and accepted full heartedly the concept that people following their conscience and then refusing to obey unjust laws could instigate peaceful change. This avenue of thought would manifest itself again and again throughout his entire life.
1954 — Massachusetts
Martin was ordained to the Baptist ministry on February 25th 1948 at the age of 19. He continued his studies at the Crozer Institute and then in 1951 Martin entered Boston University for his graduate studies. As anyone continues to grow in age they also gain more and more knowledge of their environment. It was no different with Martin Luther King Jr. It was during this time (1953) that he married Corretta Scott with all of the hopes and dreams that a man would have who finds his true love and ponders the possibilities of a family. So often when we talk about Dr. King we forget to look at the very human side of the man except in instances of weakness or transgression. Martin and Corretta were very much in love and ended up having four children: Yolanda (b. November 17, 1955), Martin Luther III (b. October 23, 1957), Dexter (b. January 30, 1961), and Bernice Albertine (b. March 28, 1963). Often times when we think of Martin Luther King Jr. we think of a Civil Rights leader, and possibly as a Pastor. Rarely do we remember him as a husband and father of four children. In 1955 Martin Luther King Jr. received the title of Dr. from Boston University, and would be known as Dr. King from that point on.
1956 — Montgomery, Alabama
Whatever your opinion of the Civil Rights movement might be, or of Dr. King himself, I believe it is important to recognize that anytime someone gives everything they possess for a worthy cause whatever it might be, they are entitled to our respect. Dr King began to actively be noticed within the Civil Rights Movement in 1955 when he supported Rosa Parks by helping to organize a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. He was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Organization on December 5th, 1955 and on November 3rd, 1956 the United States Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was illegal. For the next seven years the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would continue to care for his congregation, raise a family and work tirelessly within the US Civil Rights movement. He would visit India to learn more of Gandhi’s teachings. Dr. King would be at the center of Lunch Counter Sit-ins, Freedom Rides, speeches, and he would be arrested countless numbers of times representing the reprehensible conditions of his people. All through this time he held fast to the principles of non-violence often suffering violence by the hands of others but never retaliating. With this creed he would draw thousands and thousands of supporters from all walks of life and from all races. All would come to a head when on August 28th the largest Civil Rights demonstration in the history of the United States would take place. Over 250,000 marchers would converge on Washington in support of the Civil Rights Movement and Dr Martin Luther King Jr. would be at the center of the demonstration. Through his famous “I Have a Dream” speech he would mesmerize the crowd by baring his heart within the parameters of what he said.
28 August 1963 — Washington, DC
Martin Luther King’s “I HAVE A DREAM SPEECH” given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is reminiscent of the Gettysburg Address, given by the man in whose shadow he delivered it. Within a matter of minutes through his inspired words a nation was given a poignant and necessary message from a father concerning his own children. A country whose credo is justice and liberty for all needed to again be reminded that it must live up to it’s precepts with all of its children. Dr. King was able to deliver the words with grace, dignity, force and love. As the 250,000+ marchers were entranced so have those that have followed been moved. For once the black population of the United States had a leader that was recognized by the world. Please take the time to follow this LINK and listen to the same speech that black families around the world listen to each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. If you really listen you will hear the heart and soul of this man deliver his message to all who will listen. The TEXT of the speech can also be found here.
4 April 1968 — Memphis, TN
Martin Luther King Jr. would go on to be Man of the Year for Time Magazine and receive the Nobel Peace Prize along with other awards and accolades. He would continue to champion the cause of his people. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act would be passed legally ending the Jim Crow law era. In 1965 he would give the speech "How Long Will It Take?"
He would live to see his dream partially come to pass with the desegregation of schools. He would be arrested numerous times, thrown in jail and at the same time he would be internationally recognized as the leader of one of the greatest non-violent movements in the history of man. Born to greatness and then reaching his potential Martin Luther King Jr. like all of the great men before him lived long enough to deliver his message to the world. I believe that message lies within his “I Have a Dream” speech. At sunset on April 4, 1968 while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In a world of confusion and often hate, Dr. King was a ray of light and hope to remembered as a non-violent advocate of equality for all men and women. It is great that we honor him with a national holiday, but I know that he would rather have us remember him by remembering and living his dream!